Phoenix Model Yak 54 Mk2 GP/EP ARF - RCGroups Review

Reviewer Michael Heer shows us the Yak 54 from Phoenix Model, an aerobatic flyer for fuel or electric power.



Wingspan: 66.3"
Wing Area: 848 sq in
Weight: 10.3-11.4 lbs
Weight RTF Actual per Fish Scale: 10 lbs
Length: 63.1"
Wing Loading: 28.50 oz
Type:NACA Airfoil
Servo Mounts: 0.83 x 1.6" (21 x 42mm)
Transmitter: Tactic 850 2.4 GHz 8-Ch transmitter
Receiver: Tactic TR625 6-Ch receiver
Recommended Battery: LiPo 5S-6S up to 5000-6000mAh
Actual Battery: FlightPower LiPo 6S 5500mAh
Motor: RimFire .120 Brushless Outrunner Motor
ESC: 80A Great Planes Silver Series ESC
Manufacturer: Phoenix Models
Available From: Tower Hobbies and Fine Hobby Stores Every Where
Price: $289.98 ARF

I have previously reviewed several Phoenix Model aircraft and have found the planes to be built strong yet light. None of them have been damaged in normal flight by me or my friends. With a good track record of success, I readily accepted the opportunity to review this Yak 54. Most of the assembly was straight forward and I'll cover it in detail below. I did have a slight problem installing the long control arms needed for the elevator servos. I purchased Dubro arms for Futaba servos although I was using Tactic metal geared servos. At first the arms didn't seem to fit so I bought arms for other brands and tried them with no luck. Working with a Tactic servo out of the plane I was able with pressure to get the Dubro servo arm in place. It is the proper arm for the job it was a just a very tight fit. Now that you know that you can avoid my confusion. I had a couple other minor glitches of my own making and I share those in this review as well. I can say that I like the plane! It takes me about fifteen minutes to install both wings at the field but I can easily transport her in my Prius with the wings off. The red white and blue on top with gray wings on the bottom make orientation easy for me even on a cloudy day. Set up on low rates she is an easy plane to fly around the sky and handles some pretty strong spring breezes encountered during this review; set up for aerobatics she didn't disappoint.

The recommended and supplied components for the plane for this review all worked well. The Tactic 850 transmitter was easy to program for two elevator servos. Last intro note: Just be sure to use Lock Tight as discussed in the assembly section of this review.

Demonstration Flight Video

Phoenix RC Model Yak 54 - RCGroups Review (6 min 46 sec)

Kit Contents

Kit includes

  • Fuselage with removable canopy
  • Rudder
  • Two wing halves with ailerons
  • Wing rod
  • Main landing gear struts and wheels
  • Two wheel pants
  • Tail wheel assembly
  • Horizontal stabilizers with elevators
  • Multiple motor mounts
  • Fuel tank (not used in this review)
  • Cowl
  • Spinner
  • Assorted hardware
  • Instruction Manual

Additional Items Needed

RimFire brushless 1.20 outrunner motor

  • Great Planes Silver Series 80A ESC
  • Two 12" Tactic servo extension wires
  • Two 18" servo extension wires
  • One short Y-Harness
  • 6S 5500 mAh FlightPower LiPo battery
  • 4-Cell 2000mAh Hydromax receiver battery
  • 8-Channel Tactic Transmitter
  • 6-Channel Tactic receiver
  • 16 x 10E Propeller
  • 5 Tactic TSX45 High Torque Metal Gear Servos
  • Two extended Dubro servo arms for Futaba servos

Tools and Supplies Recommended for Assembly

Medium C/A glue

  • Thin C/A glue
  • 30 minute epoxy
  • 6 minute epoxy
  • Hand or electric drill
  • Assorted drill bits
  • Modeling knife
  • Straight edge ruler
  • 2 bender pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Extra Dean connectors and 6" of wire
  • Thread locking compound
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Covering iron with sock cover
  • T-pins

Promoted Features

Capable of precise and extreme 3D aerobatics.

  • Compatible with glow, gasoline or electric power.
  • Extremely lightweight, laser-cut all-wood balsa and light plywood construction
  • Painted, preinstalled pilot figure
  • Servo mounts
  • Decals
  • All hardware included
  • Wing: 2 piece w/all wood construction bolt on with NACA airfoils, ailerons pre-installed, aluminum wing joiner
  • Aileron Control: Dual servo
  • Covering: High quality heat shrink covering
  • Radio Compartment: Plywood reinforced
  • Cowling: Pre-painted Fiberglass
  • Canopy: Removable and Clear
  • Landing Gear: Aluminum main landing gear, Spring wire aluminum tail gear,
  • Wheels: Two 4.25" (108mm) rubber main, one 1" (25mm) tail wheel
  • Fuel Tank w/pre-assembled stopper, approximately 24oz (720cc) (Not used in this review)
  • Spinner: Plastic construction red in color, 2.7" (70mm) diameter
  • Engine Mount: Two-piece composite plastic (Not used in this review)
  • Motor Mount: Plywood with aluminum standoffs
  • Warranty Period: 90 day limited warranty



The two wing halves come ready for the servos and control hardware to be installed. I started by cutting out the covering over the servo bays in the wing. I added 12" servo extension wires to the two aileron servos. I installed the servos, one per wing half, with the servo wire exiting from the center of the wing. I next drilled and mounted the control horns in the ailerons. The next step was installing the aileron control rods between the servos and the control horns.


To prepare the horizontal stabilizer for installation into the fuselage I trimmed the covering over the top and bottom of the stabilizer's center section. I then installed the hinges into the elevator and then glued the hinges into the back of the horizontal stabilizer. Next I cut away the covering over the slot where the stabilizer gets installed. I also installed the control horns onto the elevators as they will each have their own servo to control them.

With the horizontal stabilizer installed it was now time to install the rudder. The first thing I did was drill and install the two control horns and their special connectors for the wires for the pull/pull control system. I first installed the four hinges into the rudder and secured them with thin CA and then secured the hinges into the back of the fuselage. Next I installed the rudder servo into the center of the fuselage. Using the supplied wires and hardware I installed the wires and crimped them in place.


Landing Gear

The main landing gear mounts with the wheel and the axle installed in the fiberglass wheel pants and mounted to the metal struts. I drilled holes in both wheel pants where I wanted the axle to go and then, using my hobby knife, traced lines in the fiberglass from the bottom of the pant to the sides of my drilled hole. I repeatedly pressed my hobby knife on those lines and thereby cut out the fiberglass so the axles could fit into the wheel pants; my process is shown below. I mounted the axles and wheel pants to the struts, but I was out of Lock Tight and planned to buy some and use it before the first flight. While I did buy some Lock Tight and used it in most of my construction I forgot to go back and use it on the axle to strut connections to my embarrassment when shooting the demo video for this review. The parts were all found and reattached, and that time Lock Tight was used.

Attaching the struts to the plane was the hardest part of the assembly for me. I easily cut out the holes in the covering for the bolts and the slots where the struts enter the fuselage. Each strut was secured in place with two bolts with washers and lock washers. They screw into secured nuts mounted inside the fuselage. The outer bolts were close enough that I could get the bolts and washers to the proper location and secure them. However, I had trouble with the longer two center spaces with the short supplied bolts. I got one installed but knocked out the other center securing nut. I took the easy way out and just used a longer bolt! I had the necessary hardware on-hand and installed the bolt as shown below. Most of you will probably be able to use the supplied bolts but with my arthritis I just didn't want to mess with it after some initial frustration, so I just did it my way which has worked perfectly.

The tail wheel gets mounted to the bottom rear of the fuselage and the process is well covered in the instruction manual. Additionally a metal T-piece was mounted on the bottom of the rudder. This will allow rudder movement to steer the tail wheel and guide the plane on the ground. These two pieces are connected with two supplied springs that connect the tail wheel to the rudder and allow for the steering.

Motor and ESC Controller

I am using the electric motor version and the motor mounts to three plywood firewalls that I glued together with the supplied spacers and mounting screws. I then mounted the firewall to the fuselage with the longer bolts and spacers.

The ESC connectors did not match up with the connectors on the motor. Connectors matching the motor mounts were included with the motor so I cut off the connectors that came on the ESC and installed those that came with the motor to match up the ESC with the motor.

With the motor and ESC mounted I placed tape on the front cowl mounts on the fuselage and marked and measured the tape so I could drill cowl mounting holes through the cowl in the proper place. I fit the cowl in place before drilling any holes. I then glued the black baffles in position. When the glue was dry I placed the cowl back in place and double checked for proper alignment and drilled the first mounting holes. Checking for proper alignment at each step, I drilled the remain three cowl mounting holes so that the motor was sticking out of the black baffle. It wasn't rubbing or touching the baffle and there was clearance for the propeller and spinner.

I expanded the two mounting holes in the base of the spinner with a 3/32nd drill and still had to use a lot of pressure and be careful not to strip the spinner mounting screws. After doing that I still had to align the propeller so that the mounting holes and spaces for the propeller lined up properly. I had to use my hobby knife to remove some of the plastic from the spinner so that the recommended propeller could fit properly; that's not unusual and is easy to do with a plastic spinner like the one provided in the kit. After that preparation the propeller and spinner were properly mounted, and I made sure the prop nut was nice and tight.

Installing the Wings

The first thing I had to do was cut away the covering that was over the bays where the wings are inserted from the sides. The wing halves actually fit into the fuselage by about a 1/4 inch and so I used my hobby knife to carefully remove the red covering over the areas where the wings are installed. Withe the covering removed I slipped the large aluminum wing rod through the fuselage and slid on one wing half and then the other. In the process I slipped the aileron servo wires (one per side) into the large opening on the fuselage, across from where the wire comes out of the wing. Next I screwed in the two wing mounting bolts that go through the sides of the fuselage and into a wing half. With one wing half secure I installed two bolts into the second wing half. My Yak 54 was now assembled and it was time to install my receiver.

Radio Installation

Hobbico supplied a Tactic 850 transmitter for this review but no receiver. I purchased a 6-channel Tactic receiver and installed it into the fuselage just behind the wing rod on the wooden platform above the floor of the fuselage using Velcro that I supplied. I used a short Y-connector for the ailerons and two long servo extension for the elevator servos. One servo was plugged into channel two and one into channel six on the receiver. I programmed the transmitter to operate the two elevator servos for the one elevator control stick. It was necessary to reverse one of the servos but otherwise the process was straight forward.

A four cell 2000mAh NiMH battery was supplied to power the radio and servos as the ESC does not have BEC. It was time to install the batteries and balance the plane.


I covered the battery tray with Velcro and did the same with matching Velcro on the side of the battery. At the field my friend Bill gave me a strap to further help secure the battery in place. Next I went to balance the plane on the recommended C/G which is 137mm in back of the wing's leading edge at the fuselage, which is 5.3" back. To balance at this point I used multiple strips on the 2000mAh NiMH battery at the area at the top inside of the fuselage over the battery tray. With the flight battery there my plane was almost balanced but just a bit nose heavy. I installed a 1/2 an ounce of lead into the cover over the elevator servos in the back of the plane. Success! My Yak was now balanced where recommended. Next on the Tactic 850 transmitter I programmed in the dual rate and 20% Expo for the ailerons and elevator. I increased the rudder throw to 150% and used no dual rate or expo with it. I have posted the recommended throws below.

Control Throws- Low Rate..............High Rate Elevator: 0.43" (11mm) 12% expo 0.51" (13mm) 12% expo Rudder: 1.4" (35mm) 15% expo 2.4" (60mm) 15% expo Ailerons: 0.43" (11mm) 10% expo 0.51" (13mm) 10% expo

I had some trouble plugging the 6-cell battery into the Dean connector from the ESC so I made a short extension wire to make connecting the battery to the ESC easier for me. With both batteries fully charged it was time to go flying.



The plane has four basic controls with throttle, ailerons, rudder and elevator. I suggest that you program the ailerons and elevator controls to the throw recommended for the first flight and program in at least the recommended expo. This gives a very controlled flight envelope at low rates; for the less experienced pilots especially this is a great way to start. You will probably want to increase the rudder throw after initial flights and I did so before the first flight. Set the plane up for your style of flying. If you don't do 3D flying this is an excellent sport flyer and performs very well. It can be set up to have greater responses and fly 3D. Either way she is a beautiful plane in the sky and both Chris and I have had a lot of fun flying her for this review.

Taking Off and Landing

This plane is very easy to takeoff and land and handles 15 mile an hour wind very well so long as it is mostly down the runway. I like to advance the throttle slowly and build by flying speed in a scale like manor and takeoff. With this approach I had no problems with motor torque and could quickly convert to a high speed climb. A cross wind requires use of rudder to keep the Yak tracking nicely down the runway. We tend to go a bit across the runway at an angle and into the quartering cross wind that we often experience. Landings were also very easy, especially when the landing gear stayed in place.

They say that big planes fly best and I can say that the has been true for the the takeoffs and landings even in wind for this Yak 54.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Neither I nor Chris are really 3D pilots although we have both done some 3D maneuvers. I found this plane was excellent in sportsman aerobatic maneuvers as built. Both Chris I flew a number of rolls, loops and other maneuvers and found the plane performed them well. However, when I hung her on the prop for high alpha maneuvers I thought she could benefit from some more power. Chris did some hovering and high alpha maneuvers and came to the same conclusion on his own. For standard aerobatics she is fine as built with the Rimfire 1.20 motor.

At home I went to the Tower Hobbies website and investigated the 1.20 motor that was recommended for planes up to 14.5 pounds for sport flying. Since my plane only weighed 10 pounds RTF this was well within that weight limited and as flown powered the sports style flying very well.

However, Tower Hobbies only recommends the motor for planes weighing up to nine pounds for 3D flying; while we were doing our attempted 3D maneuvers, Chris and I were correct in thinking that for serious 3D flying we might want a more powerful motor.

Is This For a Beginner?

This is a heavy and somewhat expensive plane. With all the good trainers on the market I recommend starting with a high wing trainer and learning how to fly with that. This makes a great third or fourth plane for sportsman flying of for 3D pilots who have learned the basics of 3D flying before flying this plane. (Per above consider using use a 1.60 Rimfire motor for serious 3D flying.)

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Demonstration Video

Phoenix RC Model Yak 54 - RCGroups Review (6 min 46 sec)


I was lucky and got calm air for my flights for this review by flying early on weekday mornings when there was little or no breeze. I started off with low throws and worked up to full throw aggressive flights. Although I am not a 3D pilot I did get her to do some nice vertical hovers and very tight loops and rolls. I also performed a few high Alpha moves and got some very clean knife edge passes down the runway. The more I flew her the more I loved flying her. An intermediate pilot should be able to fly her as a sport plane with confidence. I discussed my assembly in detail and hopefully made the process easier for those that read this review. I would set her up with the same motor, ESC and servos if I were to do it again for myself. However if I were a true 3D pilot I would consider going to the 1.60 Rimfire for 3D flying. Based on the weight of the plane, that would be the recommended motor for 3D flying as the plane weighs over 9 pounds. Chris mentioned he would want more power for 3D flying and the motor recommendations on Tower's Website support using the 1.20 motor for sport flying and considering the 1.60 motor for 3D. I would also use two long bolts to secure the center mounts of the two landing gear struts. I would use Lock Tight on the landing gear securing nuts and axles.

This is a fun plane to fly and looks beautiful in the air. I very much enjoy sport flying it as built.

Pluses & Minuses


  • Well constructed kit and parts fit well making a beautiful plane.
  • Easy to install the recommended 1.20 electric motor into the plane with supplied hardware.
  • Easy access to the main battery for changing batteries at the field.
  • I can easily transport her in my Prius and attach the wings at the field in 15 minutes or less.
  • Flies very well as a Sunday flier or for sport plane aerobatics.


  • Needed to determine which long servo arms were needed but I have shared the answer.
  • I wish the two center bolts for the landing struts mounts were a little longer.
  • I made an extension wire for the ESC to battery connection for my comfort. Original could have worked but was short.
  • Recommend considering the 1.60 Rimfire for serious 3D aerobatics per the research (Not tested in this review.).


I want to thank Phoenix Models for supplying the Yak 54 MK2 for this review and thanks to Hobbico for the accessories they supplied and listed above that they supplied to complete this review. I want to thank my friends Bill and Chris. Bill supplied a battery strap and Chris flew so I could shoot media. Finally, thanks to the editing team at RC Groups for their assistance with this review.

Last edited by Matt Gunn; Jun 16, 2016 at 08:24 AM..
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Jun 16, 2016, 09:23 AM
Registered User
Thanks for the review, Phoenix have some fantastic looking planes!
Jun 16, 2016, 11:30 PM
Registered User
What kind of duration are you getting?
Jun 17, 2016, 10:46 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
I have been flying six minute flights mostly mixed speeds. Longest flight was 7 minutes about 50 seconds and still had enough battery for another minute. Mike Heer
Jun 18, 2016, 10:36 AM
Ronaldo Nogueira
ronaldopn's Avatar
Phoenix Models kits look really well made and reasonably priced, I wish they weren't so heavy. I would love to have a Yak this size.
Jun 20, 2016, 08:21 PM
I build this model and powered it with an OS 120 AX. To get this plane to balance without adding nose weight, you must move a single elevator servo forward and use a through the fuselage bell crank from Central Hobbies ( their largest size) operated by a carbon fibre push rod. Our field is 4500' and so equipped, this plane is one of the best I have ever flown. Prop is an APC 16x8. Just cover the servo bays for the elevator servos with 1/8 ply, make holes for bell crank bearings in them and install bell crank. Moving two servos out of the tail makes a vast difference in balancing ease.
Jun 27, 2016, 10:29 AM
Registered User

Rimfire 1.20

The Rimfire 1.20 specs are a mystery to me. Burst specs are 80A on 6S, which translates to 2,016 watts (4.2x6x80) or 140 watts/lb for a 14.5 lb airplane, which is OK, but not great for a warbird but definitely insufficient for an aerobat as this is a burst power. The burst rating is provided in the specs is 2360 watts and I really wonder how this was calculated. Constant rating is 1260 watts, which I think is way underpowered for a 14.5 lb airplane. I have two 10-11lb aerobats that pull 1800W peak and probably around 1200W on average.

This power range is a gap that is not easily filled on the RC world right now. The Eflite/Turnigy Power 110 and the Turnigy AeroDrive SK3 6364 260 kV motors go beyond 6S and provide the necessary power. Rimfire really needs to redesign their 1.20 to suit the 10-14 lb range. Hobbyking is hopelessly out of stock, at this time, so fining a motor for this range is challenging.

There was an review last year regarding the Sequence 1.20 in the Model Aeronautics magazine, which also indicated that the Rimfire 1.20 did not provide sufficient power, and a second round of review described an upgrag to a Hacker. Very surprised that Rimfire did not get the message then, hopefully something will be done soon as I like their motors in general.
Jun 27, 2016, 09:26 PM
Ronaldo Nogueira
ronaldopn's Avatar
What about this one for 3D:
Turnigy G160 Brushless Outrunner 290kv
Jun 04, 2017, 12:05 AM
Registered User
Hello guys, great review. Thanks much. I already own a 20cc DLE gas motor, will this be agood fit for this plane? thanks!
Jun 26, 2017, 12:43 AM
Registered User
Is this model overweight? Anyone using an alternate affordable 3d motor?
Jul 17, 2017, 03:23 PM
Registered User
Has anyone also flown the Phoenix Models 1.20 Sbach 342? How does it fly in comparison to this?
Jul 31, 2017, 09:12 PM
Registered User

Down side of the YAK54 MK2 ARF

I am currently building the Phoenix YAK54 MK2. This is the third Phoenix model for me. The first was the Ryan STA (discontinued now) Great ARF. Everything went together as explained in the manual. The second ARF was the 1/5 scale Piper Cub which I made electric. An awesome airplane. Went together with no problem.
Now comes the YAK. First of all, the wings came with the servo boxes in the wrong section of the wing. I could not make the servos fit as shown in the manual. Happily, Tower Hobbies warranty dept took care of the problem by sending me a new set of wings in 2 days. They were correct.
The next issue was that the wing tube would not fit into the fuselage or the wings. I had to invent a tool to sand the inside of the wing tube accesses in both wings and the fuselage. A lot of sanding. Also the wings would not fit into the fuselage. I had to sand the opening in the fuselage so that the wings would.
I have to say that this is the first ARF that I had to cut the covering from the fuselage for the wing slots. That leaves a very rough opening that I had to touch up with red paint.
I'm not done yet, so I won't be surprised that I'm presented with more challenges.
While this may end up being a very nice airplane, it is the worst ARF I have ever assembled.
Aug 02, 2017, 10:22 PM
Registered User

YAK54 again

Another roadblock. There is no provision for an on/off switch. Where do you put the switch? Guess I'll have to put it under the canopy.

GEEZ! What a poorly designed airplane!
Aug 03, 2017, 08:06 AM
"BIG" Vyper Addicted
Chris SW's Avatar
Looks like a nice model and little niggles I can get past, they happen in lots of planes but the WEIGHT!!!!!

Is it really over 10lbs???? have a Flex Ventique of a very similar size with an AUW of 7lb 6oz. I though we had stopped flying bricks backs in the nineties!!!!
Aug 16, 2017, 01:45 PM
Registered User
A 17x10 prop could have been used for more pull out power? At 10lbs that over 200 watts per lb. Sounds decent.
Max. Constant Current: 50A
Max. Surge Current: 80A
Max. Constant Watts: 1480W
Burst Watts: 2360W

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